Robot Learning Manipulation Action Plans by "Watching" Unconstrained Videos from the World Wide Web

From Yezhou Yang, Yi Li, Cornelia Fermuller and Yiannis Aloimonos: In order to advance action generation and creation in robots beyond simple learned schemas we need computational tools that allow us to automatically interpret and represent human actions. This paper presents a system that learns manipulation action plans by processing unconstrained videos from the World Wide Web. Its goal is to robustly generate the sequence of atomic actions of seen longer actions in video in order to acquire knowledge for robots. The lower level of the system consists of two convolutional neural network (CNN) based recognition modules, one for classifying the hand grasp type and the other for object recognition. The higher level is a probabilistic manipulation action grammar based parsing module that aims at generating visual sentences for robot manipulation. The list of the grasping types. Experiments conducted on a publicly available unconstrained video dataset show that the system is able to learn manipulation actions by “watching” unconstrained videos with high accuracy.... ( article at Kurzweilai.net ) ( original paper )

2014 Robotics In A Word: "MORE"

The list of top stories in robotics for 2014 is a story of "MORE": MORE uses of and for robots; MORE serious discussions about robots; MORE robots in unusual places; MORE news in the financial press; MORE funding, acquisitions and IPOs; and MORE choices.

Intuitive Robot Programming for Flexible Aerospace Manufacturing

Robots are proving to be flexible tools for aircraft manufacturing and assembly. Their full potential however can be limited by the challenges of programming a robot in a CAD/CAM environment. Software that integrates offline programming, simulation, code generation, and path optimization makes the process seamless and error-free.

John Carmack On Modern C++

Winter break homework from John Carmack. Gamasutra reprint article "In-depth: Functional programming in C++": A large fraction of the flaws in software development are due to programmers not fully understanding all the possible states their code may execute in. In a multithreaded environment, the lack of understanding and the resulting problems are greatly amplified, almost to the point of panic if you are paying attention. Programming in a functional style makes the state presented to your code explicit, which makes it much easier to reason about, and, in a completely pure system, makes thread race conditions impossible... ( full article ) Also "Lessons to learn from Oculus development team when using the “Modern C++” approach": Modern C++ doesn’t imply necessarly the overuse of templates Andrei Alexandrescu says about the Modern C++ design: "Modern C++ Design defines and systematically uses generic components - highly flexible design artifacts that are mixable and matchable to obtain rich behaviors with a small, orthogonal body of code." Modern C++ has a close relation with generic programming; probably it’s the reason that makes many developers neglect the modern C++ approach. They think that the code will be mostly implemented as templates, which makes the code difficult to read and maintain. In the SDK, the templates represent only 20% of all types defined and most of them are related to the technical layer... ( full article )

Interview with David Sands, ST Robotics International

We call our robots entry level for a very good reason. People can get started so easily with our robots. They are not the best robot arms on the planet but they are affordable and incredibly easy to use.

Kissing It Better: Lifting Ergonomically with Vacuum

By using the right suction and the right lips for the job, you really can "kiss it better" before lifting, rather than after.

OpenCV Vision Challenge

From the OpenCV Foundation: OpenCV Foundation with support from DARPA and Intel Corporation are launching a community-wide challenge to update and extend the OpenCV library with state-of-art algorithms. An award pool of $50,000 is provided to reward submitters of the best performing algorithms in the following 11 CV application areas: (1) image segmentation, (2) image registration, (3) human pose estimation, (4) SLAM, (5) multi-view stereo matching, (6) object recognition, (7) face recognition, (8) gesture recognition, (9) action recognition, (10) text recognition, (11) tracking. Conditions: The OpenCV Vision Challenge Committee will judge up to five best entries. You may submit a new algorithm developed by yourself or your implementation of an existing algorithm even if you are not the author of the algorithm.  You may enter any number of categories.  If your entry wins the contest you will be awarded $1K. To win an additional $7.5 to $9K, you must contribute the source code as an OpenCV pull request under a BSD license.  You acknowledge that your contributed code may be included, with your copyright, in OpenCV. You may explicitly enter code for any work you have submitted to CVPR 2015 or its workshops. We will not unveil it until after CVPR. Timeline: Submission Period: Now – May 8th 2015  Winners Announcement: June 8th 2015 at CVPR 2015 (full details)

Robotic Assembly

Manual assembly procedures, which previously have been neither ergonomic nor appropriate for automation, can currently be automated in a cost-effective way.

Deep Visual-Semantic Alignments for Generating Image Descriptions

Because of the Nov. 14th submission  deadline for this years IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) several big image-recognition papers are coming out this week: From Andrej Karpathy and Li Fei-Fei of Stanford: We present a model that generates free-form natural language descriptions of image regions. Our model leverages datasets of images and their sentence descriptions to learn about the inter-modal correspondences between text and visual data. Our approach is based on a novel combination of Convolutional Neural Networks over image regions, bidirectional Recurrent Neural Networks over sentences, and a structured objective that aligns the two modalities through a multimodal embedding. We then describe a Recurrent Neural Network architecture that uses the inferred alignments to learn to generate novel descriptions of image regions. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our alignment model with ranking experiments on Flickr8K, Flickr30K and COCO datasets, where we substantially improve on the state of the art. We then show that the sentences created by our generative model outperform retrieval baselines on the three aforementioned datasets and a new dataset of region-level annotations... ( website with examples ) ( full paper ) From Oriol Vinyals, Alexander Toshev, Samy Bengio, and Dumitru Erhan at Google: Show and Tell: A Neural Image Caption Generator  ( announcement post ) ( full paper ) From Ryan Kiros, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, Richard S. Zemel at University of Toronto: Unifying Visual-Semantic Embeddings with Multimodal Neural Language Models  ( full paper ) From Junhua Mao, Wei Xu, Yi Yang, Jiang Wang and Alan L. Yuille at Baidu Research/UCLA: Explain Images with Multimodal Recurrent Neural Networks  ( full paper ) From Jeff Donahue, Lisa Anne Hendricks, Sergio Guadarrama, Marcus Rohrbach, Subhashini Venugopalan, Kate Saenko, and Trevor Darrell at UT Austin, UMass Lowell and UC Berkeley: Long-term Recurrent Convolutional Networks for Visual Recognition and Description ( full paper ) All these came from this Hacker News discussion .

Boston Magazine Profiles Rodney Brooks of Rethink

Long article about Rodney Brooks co-founder of Rethink and former CTO at iRobot: ...Brooks cofounded the bedford-based iRobot in 1990, and his motivation, he explains, had something to do with vanity: “My thoughts on my self-image at the time was that I didn’t really want to be remembered for building insects.” Then he pauses for a moment and laughs. “But after that I started building vacuum-cleaning robots. And now there is a research group using Baxter to open stool samples. So now it’s shit-handling robots. I think maybe I should have quit while I was ahead. You know, that’s something no one ever says: ‘I hope my kid grows up to open stool samples... ( full article )

Rethink Robotics Introduces Industry-First Robot Positioning System

This disruptive technology enables Baxter to switch between tasks without retraining by using environmental markers, called Landmarks™, in conjunction with its existing, embedded vision system.

NEXCOM IoT Controller Solution Brings Intelligence to Manufacturing

In this white paper, NEXCOM will explain how the NEXCOM IoT controller NIFE 100 provides a unique open-architecture solution with the configuration flexibility to surmount communication barriers in building the Factory-of- Things and supporting the necessary data communications for connecting the enterprise domain and the operation domain.

Grabit Inc. Demos Electrostatic Gripper

From Grabit Inc.: Enhanced Flexibility Grabit technology eliminates the need for part-specific grippers and minimizes gripper changeover, dramatically reducing costs and downtime. Gentle Handling Grabit grippers offer scratch and smudge-free handling with its clean grasping and eliminates the need to remove residue left by vacuum cups. Grabit’s uniform grasping effect eliminates high “point stresses” on large format glass sheets. Low Energy & Quiet Operations Grabit products operate at ultra-low energy levels providing cost savings and enabling mobile robot applications, and also offer quiet operations improving factory conditions and supporting the adoption of collaborative robots... ( homepage )

Formosa Plastics Wins with Open Intel ® Architecture and Scalable Roadmap

Replacing legacy application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC) with x86 architecture allows the company to deliver products just in time and to achieve about 20 percent of overhead in inventory.

Current Transducer Implementation Phenomena

Implementation of a current transducer is typically a straightforward affair. In the event that the output is not as expected, it must be understood that the source of the challenge may be rooted in the mechanical, magnetic or electric nature of the device.

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Factory Automation - Featured Product

Novotechnik - Vert-X 05E Series of dual angle/speed sensors

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Vert-X 05E Series of dual angle/speed sensors. The series features easy mounting in small and narrow spaces with a 5 mm body depth and mounting flanges with metal inserts. The sensors make measurements only 6 mm from edge of product for close-to-wall measurement applications. Vert-X 05E Series sensors measure angles from 0 to 360°, rotational speed and direction with repeatability to 0.1°.